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HomeGeneralWashington Jury Orders Monsanto To Pay Nearly $1 Billion Fine to Students...

Washington Jury Orders Monsanto To Pay Nearly $1 Billion Fine to Students and Parents

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A picture of Monsanto
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A Washington state jury has ordered Monsanto to pay $857 million to a group of seven former students and parent volunteers. The judgment comes as Monsanto faces thousands of lawsuits over its weed-killing chemical, Roundup. 

Recently, a court ordered the company to pay $332 million to a man who claimed Roundup caused his cancer. In the most recent case, the former students and parent volunteers contended that exposure to Monsanto’s polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, from fluorescent light fixtures caused various health problems. 

Some claimed they suffered from brain damage and autoimmune disorders. However, after a long legal battle, a Washington state jury found Monsanto guilty. They discovered the company sold a product that contained unsafe chemicals to the Sky Valley Education Center in Monroe.

In addition, the verdict states that the company failed to issue appropriate warnings about the chemicals known as PCBs. Consequently, the case resulted in a $857 million verdict. However, Monsanto intends to appeal the decision, arguing that the school failed to upgrade its light fixtures.

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According to the Massachusetts Bureau of Climate and Environmental Health, PCBs were popular from the 1950s to 1970s. Hence, many used them in caulking, light fixtures, and other parts of buildings. However, the US government banned PCBs from production in 1979 due to their toxicity. 

“Although they banned PCBs in 1979,” Keri C. Hornbuckle, a professor at the University of Iowa, said. “They’re still present in the environment.” Hornbuckle appeared in court as an expert witness for the plaintiffs in the Washington trial. “Many call PCBs forever chemicals because they break down so slowly,” she added.

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Similarly, a study published in the National Library of Medicine describes PCBs as “dangerous contaminants.” The research claims that studies have linked the chemical to thyroid and reproductive issues and an increased risk of diabetes.

Like microplastics or weedkillers, PCBs can contaminate the soil and water. Hence, the Environmental Protection Agency warned that PCBs become more toxic when in contact with fish because of a composition change. 

While the verdict holds the corporation accountable, Henry Jones, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, applauded the decision. “No one who heard this evidence,” he said. “Would change places with any of these people in exchange for all the money the jury awarded.”

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The jury ordered the firm to pay the plaintiffs $73 million in compensation and $784 million in punitive damages. However, in a statement, Monsanto disagreed with the verdict and plans to appeal. “We disagree with the verdict and will pursue post-trial motions and appeals to get this verdict overturned,” a spokesperson said.  

Also, the company revealed plans to reduce the “constitutionally excessive damages awarded.” Besides condemning the huge payout, the company’s spokesperson slammed the evidence brought against them. “The objective evidence in this case, including blood, air, and other tests,” the spokesperson said. 

“Demonstrates that PCBs could not have caused their alleged injuries.” The company, now owned by German pharmaceutical giant Bayer, is facing similar lawsuits. Even so, Monsanto is facing PCB lawsuits from Vermont. The Vermont lawsuit alleges that the company knows its PCB formulations are toxic and can cause harm to humans.

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